Confession #144: I can’t catch up with myself… Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

by alexandra

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars - the classic PB&J sandwich in an irresistible, cookie-like, crumb bar form. | brighteyedbaker.com

Embarrassing fact #1: I literally made and photographed these PB&J Bars more than a year ago, and then somehow never got around to posting them.

Embarrassing fact #2: This is so not a one-time scenario. Somewhere in the mess of  3 scribbly recipe notebooks, 2 computers full of photos, and 1 jumbled brain, I have a solid stack of recipes that have yet to be shared, many of which I’ve temporarily forgotten about.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars - the classic PB&J sandwich in an irresistible, cookie-like, crumb bar form. | brighteyedbaker.com

The thing is, (although it might seem totally obvious), I started this blog mostly because I really love to bake, so even when I can’t find time to take pictures or write posts or even attempt to keep up with all the social media stuff that I halfway understand, I pretty much always find time to bake. And because of that, there are tons of things I’ve made that are in some stage of the process that will eventually lead to another new post, but sometimes they get stuck in that process for wayyyy longer than I would like.

Even though it took me just over a year to actually post these bars, the recipe is one of those that I wish they could all be like, where everything works out perfectly the first time, the end result is a smashing success, and I don’t spend weeks obsessing over how to fix what isn’t quite right yet. Plus, I never really forgot about them, and all year long I was randomly thinking, “I really need to post those PB&J bars”. The fact that I’m finally doing it makes me feel pretty accomplished for a Monday!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars - the classic PB&J sandwich in an irresistible, cookie-like, crumb bar form. | brighteyedbaker.com

When I made these, I actually made them with my dad in mind, but secretly with myself in mind as well (hah!). I get my total love for peanut butter from him, and as much as I’ll whole-heartedly mix peanut butter with bananas and nutella or any form of chocolate, there’s something sweet and nostalgic about the classic combination of peanut butter and jelly that always keeps me coming back. These bars are like the cookie form of a PB&J sandwich, with a soft, tender peanut butter cookie base layered with a bright burst of fruity jelly and topped with peanut butter cookie crumbles. They’re just the right amount of sweet to be as good for dessert as they are for a special breakfast treat, and the simple perfection of peanut butter and jelly flavor shines through every bite. For those days when you just need something easy and comforting and a little sweet, these are just the thing. In a way, they’re almost as classic as a chocolate chip cookie… almost. 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars - the classic PB&J sandwich in an irresistible, cookie-like, crumb bar form. | brighteyedbaker.com

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Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars - the classic PB&J sandwich in an irresistible, cookie-like, crumb bar form. | brighteyedbaker.com

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars


  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 16 bars

Description

The Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars are like a PB&J sandwich in cookie form, with a soft and rich peanut butter cookie base topped with a bright layer of sweet jelly and extra cookie crumbles.


Ingredients

  • 6 3/8 ounces (1 1/2 cups, spoon and level) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 4 1/4 ounces (1 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) butter, softened, divided
  • 5 ounces (2/3 cup, packed) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 9 ounces (1 cup) creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 1/4 ounces (1 cup) jelly (flavor of choice)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF and line an 8″ square pan with foil, leaving a foil overhang on opposite sides of the pan. Grease foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 1/4 ounces (1 cup, spoon and level) all-purpose flour with the whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a handheld electric mixer), cream together 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter and brown sugar. Wiping down the bowl and beater as needed, beat in the eggs one at a time, until well-combined. Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and beat in until evenly incorporated.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix in at lowest speed until just combined. Set aside 7 ounces (3/4 cup) batter. Press remaining batter into the bottom of the prepared pan, using your hands to spread the dough across the entire surface of the pan in an even layer. Lay a sheet of parchment over the dough and use your hands to smooth and flatten out the surface of the dough. Pour jelly on top and spread evenly over the surface (or just tilt the pan around to spread it out in an even layer). Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 1/8 ounces (1/2 cup, spoon and level) all-purpose flour and 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) butter to the reserved cookie batter, rubbing in with your hands until the butter and flour have disappeared into the mixture and the entire mixture is crumbly, with no large pieces of dough remaining. Place in the freezer while bars are baking.
  6. Once the first 15 minutes of baking are done, sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the bars. It will look like a lot, but be sure to use it all. Bake for another 15 minutes. The crumble topping should just barely be starting to crisp up and turn slightly golden. Cool bars completely, and then use foil to lift from the pan and slice. Store in an airtight container.

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Laura (Tutti Dolci) February 25, 2014

I love anything PB&J, these bars look like the perfect bite!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) recently posted..meyer lemon meringue pieMy Profile

alexandra February 26, 2014

Thanks Laura!

Erika February 25, 2014

Are you reading my mind? I was totally craving PB&J about 2 seconds ago and now I feel like I must have these. I definitely agree with you that these are totally classic!! I love the look of that thick cookie bar base. Must make!
Erika recently posted..DIY Pearl SugarMy Profile

alexandra February 26, 2014

Haha thanks Erika! I am totally reading your mind. :)

Ashley February 25, 2014

These bars are soooo right up my alley! I mean peanut butter and jelly in dessert form? Yes please! I’m glad you remembered and posted them!
Ashley recently posted..Spinach and Artichoke Sweet Potato SkinsMy Profile

alexandra February 26, 2014

Peanut butter recipes CANNOT go unposted, am I right?! :D

Amy February 25, 2014

You are SO lucky to have a stash of recipes to post! Lately we’ve been having really bad, cloudy weather in my town, and I’m desperately trying to bake and photo a million recipes on the sunny days so they actually look appetizing. Oof. But really, you can’t beat PB&J, especially when there’s that much PB and it’s dessert. Totally brilliant bars!!

alexandra February 26, 2014

Oh man, that’s stressful! Sometimes cloudy weather can work in your favor if you’re going for a moody shot, but other times it’s nice to have some decent sun for sure. Hope you get some better weather over there soon!

Amy February 26, 2014

I love how you always think on the bright (err, moody?) side of things! I haven’t mastered that dark & mysterious look just yet, but since a storm blew in this morning, maybe I’ll take the next few days to work on it. Thanks for the idea!!
Amy recently posted..Clean Maple Cinnamon RollsMy Profile

alexandra March 5, 2014

Haha do I? That’s nice to hear! LOL
I’m working on the whole moody thing myself; sometimes I feel like I need to push myself to experiment with light more. I get so comfortable with what I’m used to that it seems like a hassle to change things.

Amy March 5, 2014

You read my mind!!! But your photographs are already gorgeous and absolutely stunning, so you really don’t need to change styles at all! :)
Amy recently posted..Apricot Oatmeal CookiesMy Profile

Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes February 26, 2014

I totally understand; I still way too many pictures of items I have never posted…no.idea.why. And, I totally just posted about peanut butter brownies, then ended up on your blog! Whoa. This is ideal because March 1 is Peanut Butter Lover’s Day (I’m telling everyone I can so we can all celebrate together) and well, yeah, I’m a self-professed peanut butter and jelly addict. These bars look so ideal for any occasion and delicious!
Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes recently posted..Peanut Butter BrowniesMy Profile

alexandra February 26, 2014

Peanut Butter Brownies? YUM! And I so did not know about PB Lover’s Day… but now I can pretend I knew all along, so thanks for the heads up!

dina February 27, 2014

they look delish!

alexandra March 6, 2014

Aww thanks so much Amy!

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